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More Bali Nine arrests tipped

Published: 9:02AM Saturday February 18, 2006 Source: AAP

As seven members of the Bali Nine face life in prison and two start the countdown to possible execution in Indonesia, Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty has tipped further arrests in Australia.

Lawyers for all but one of the heroin smugglers also are claiming they are still waiting for the Australian government to pay their legal costs.

Keelty said so far 15 people had been arrested in connection with the Bali Nine heroin importing syndicate, the nine in Indonesia and another six in Australia, the latest earlier this week.

"We anticipate there will be further arrests," he told a Senate estimates committee hearing.

"The operation is continuing. The focus of our attention has been on the suppliers into Indonesia using the AFP's international network, particularly in Thailand and we are continuing to work down that path."

Keelty said he did not want to comment on the role of individuals who were before the courts in Australia.

But he said some had travelled to Bali on previous occasions and there were inferences of successful importations.

"We certainly know of an aborted importation in November 2004," he said.

"Quite obviously we were never going to be talking publicly about that while these people were facing the courts in Indonesia."

Keelty said that was aborted because the heroin failed to arrive in Indonesia.

"We only became aware of that after the initial arrests in Indonesia so we had no idea that this syndicate was as big as what it is, had tentacles in all the places that it had the tentacles, no idea about that whatsoever," he said.

Tough sentences

All nine of those arrested in Bali have been dealt with by the Indonesian courts.

Masterminds Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were sentenced to death.

Would-be mules Matthew Norman, Si Yi Chen, Martin Stephens, Renae Lawrence, Michael Czugaj and Scott Rush were sentenced to life, as was senior gang lieutenant Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen.

Keelty rejected suggestions that the AFP should have stopped Rush from travelling to Indonesia after his father contacted police.

He said the AFP did not directly deal with Lee Rush and contact was made though a Queensland police officer attached to an AFP investigation team.

"Whoever gave Lee Rush the assurance that his son would be prevented from travelling acted dishonourably," he said.

"There is no way anyone in the AFP would have provided that assurance because there was simply no power to detain him. He was not wanted on warrants, there were no conditions of his bail that prevented him from travelling overseas."

The attorney-general's office on Saturday would neither confirm nor deny that eight of the Bali Nine were still waiting for the Australian government to pay their legal costs.

A department spokeswoman said she would not comment on individual legal aid applications but there were many reasons why there may be delays in payments for Australians facing proceedings overseas.

She said their lawyers may have not provided enough information to the department or requested the money in US dollars.

As they prepare to appeal to the Bali High Court, lawyers said they would make further applications for funding from the Australian government to cover the appeals process, which could take years.

Lawrence was the first to appeal, with her lawyers on Friday lodging paperwork to start the process with the district court.

The rest of the group are expected to lodge their appeals on Monday and Tuesday.